I purchased a farmhouse in Connecticut in 1923, during the Harding Administration. Things were fine till the Great Depression. I lost the farmhouse and moved to New York. I lived on the streets, begging for dimes. “Brother, can you spare a dime?” That was my byword. I survived the 1930s, then the war came and I was drafted. I served in World War II, the big one. I landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944. I survived the landing and fought in northern France.
After the war, I struggled with depression. My life was an endless trial. Things started to look up during the Eisenhower Administration. I went to college on the GI Bill. I got a degree in Philosophy at Harvard. I lived in Boston during the 1960s. Those were wild years. I did fairly well as a professional philosopher. People liked my philosophy: Live and Let Live.
Then the 1970s came along and I lost everything during the Carter Administration. I moved back to New York and lived on the streets. I begged for dimes. “Brother, can you spare a dime?” In 1981 I wrote a letter to President Reagan, begging for a job in the State Department. I never got an answer.
Things looked bleak. But then, the cold war ended in 1991, and suddenly my career as a professional philosopher took off. The 90s were a great decade for my Live and Let Live philosophy. It was a great time for laissez faire. Capitalism was on the ascendency and all was good with the world.
In 2001 I thought that George Bush would save the world. He didn’t. The shock of 9/11 took its toll on my psyche. I succumbed to a profound melancholy. Throughout the Bush Administration, I had a foreboding: a sense that the good times could not last.
In 2008, with the economic crash, I decided to end it all. I couldn’t take it any longer. If George Bush couldn’t save the world, who could? That’s what I reasoned at the time. In 2008, I was confined to a mental hospital. The doctors had never seen a case like mine. They said I was hopeless. I was despondent. I missed the Harding Administration, those blithe days when I lived in a farmhouse in Connecticut, when the future seemed so bright.
If only the people would elect a black president, I thought. I told my psychiatrist about my hopes that a black president would lead America out of its malaise. My psychiatrist was convinced I was deranged. “America will never elect a black president,” he said. The doctors put me in a straitjacket, so convinced were they that I was incurable, what with my laissez faire philosophy and my dreams of a black president.
Prof. Rubin was a law professor in the LL.M. program at American University in 1983. He had been a student of Felix Frankfurter’s at Harvard Law School.
Prof. Chomsky is a world-renowned linguist and political activist. We attended the same high school, The Central High School of Philadelphia.